The word “rehabilitation” was coined from the Latin term “rehabilis,” which means to restore an ability. Rehabilitation is a coordinated and complex measure of a social, medical, pedagogical (teaching), and professional nature, carried out with the aim of adapting the patient to new living and working conditions.
Cardiac rehabilitation is suitable for patients of all ages and with many forms of heart disease. In particular, cardiac rehabilitation is an effective choice if you have suffered or are suffering from any of these diseases:
- Myocardial infarction;
- Coronary heart disease (ischemic heart disease, IHD);
- Heart failure;
- Angina pectoris;
- Some congenital heart diseases;
- If you have undergone coronary artery bypass surgery;
- Angioplasty or stenting;
- Heart transplant;
- Surgery to replace heart valves.
Note that cardiac rehabilitation programs can be tailored for any age and are often designed for elderly patients. To achieve the best outcomes, rehabilitation programs for heart disease should be based on the unique and individual characteristics of the patient and comprise of a multi-disciplinary team of skilled nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and home health aides (if necessary) such as the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Countryside Home Health Care. The cardiac rehabilitation program must consist of exercises, activities, and education, the goal of which is to restore the health of a patient suffering from heart disease or after undergoing cardiac surgery.
As a rule, the idea of rehabilitation of a person suffering from cardiovascular disease boils down to the incorporation of the following: physical activity and proper use of medications. However, refusing to exercise is a big mistake. Correct rehabilitation treatments under the supervision of a qualified specialist can significantly reduce the body’s need for drug therapy.
PHASES OF CARDIAC REHABILITATION
Rehabilitation for heart disease is often divided into phases that include physician-controlled exercise, optimal diet development, emotional support, and lifestyle training.
Phase 1: This phase begins in the hospital, generally after a surgical procedure has just been done. The initial examination allows doctors to assess your general condition, physical strength, limitations, and other conditions that affect the choice of cardiac rehabilitation. Doctors evaluate your risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Based on all the data obtained, doctors draw up an individual cardiac rehabilitation program that is safe and effective just for you.
Phase 2: Cardiac rehabilitation programming in the home or outpatient setting aims to improve your cardiovascular system through walking (health path), cycling, swimming, and other physical activities. Strength exercises are also used to improve muscle strength. Don’t worry if you’ve never exercised before. A team of physical therapy cardiac specialists such as those at Countryside Home Health Care will select a set of exercises for you that is safe and comfortable. In general, these exercises should be done three to five times a week. You will be taught the correct exercise technique, how to warm up and stretch your muscles before the main set.
Phase 3: Phase 3 is the maintenance phase, without the need for electrocardiographic monitoring, and can be performed in clubs, gyms, or places with the capacity to provide specific physical training for each individual.
Phase 4: This phase is also referred to as independent and ongoing conditioning. This is because it involves your own personal life change to prevent the risk of the development of heart disease. One of the important aspects of a proper cardiac rehabilitation program is an emphasis on optimizing your diet. It is proper nutrition that can help you lose weight and prevent further cardiovascular damage. You will be taught to eat right and choose the food that works best for you, avoiding excess fat, salt, and cholesterol. You will also be advised to quit bad habits that do not fit in with the healthy lifestyle of someone who has had heart disease, such as smoking.
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CARDIAC REHABILITATION
It should be noted that not all patients with heart disease are suitable for cardiac rehabilitation. Your general physician, hospitalist, or cardiologist will generally determine to what extent a cardiac rehabilitation program is suitable for you. Specialists carefully oversee and monitor the entire process of cardiac rehabilitation in order to avoid any complications and ensure that you are on the path toward recovery.
Brett Sears, PT, Richard N. Fogoros, MD, 2019, The 4 Phases of Cardiac Rehabilitation.
Hicham Skali, MD, Should I participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program? 2019.